SCHOOLS have gone empty at the peak of the academic session, especially for secondary-level classes, because the teachers have been asked to carry out the ‘national duty’ of conducting the population census.

The non-teaching duties that the teachers are routinely asked to carry out have been the black spot on our education system for long. No other factor has paralysed the learning process more than the centrifugality of the teaching talent.

Nevertheless, the most deplorable thing is that this scourge has been knowingly ignored and allowed to eat into the vitals of our nation.

To name a few, teachers’ non-teaching duties include national elections, attending walks, rallies and inaugural ceremonies, conducting board exami-nations, clerical duties at schools, and many others. These duties are assigned by government departments themselves, leaving public-school teachers out of contrast with their non-public counter-parts who never have to perform any duty but to teach.

In Punjab, the annual secondary and higher secondary exams are to be held from April onwards, but teachers of public educational institutions have been busy attending training sessions and collecting digital gadgets to conduct national census since February.

At private institutions, examination preparations are being given utmost priority and undiluted devotion, which should be the case at public institutions as well, but students there have been left high and dry not just by the system, but also by some teachers who them-selves opted to join the non-teaching duty to run away from their classes.

Moreover, no directions have been issued for the heads of public institutions about how to keep the learning process going in the absence of the teachers. Can anybody imagine that teachers having MPhils and PhDs in their subjects have either preferred voluntarily or have been assigned by the government non-teaching functions? To employ resources, natural or human, where they are least needed instead of where they should be spent is nothing but self-destruction at the national scale.

Instead of taking that route, it would have been much better to raise a non-teaching workforce from among the unemployed educated youth to carry out such tasks. It would have given some real-life exposure to the fresh graduates along with short-term employment, and would have left the academic process untouched and unaffected. Another viable solution is to ensure that all non-teaching duties are conducted and performed after regular school timings.

M. Nadeem Nadir
Kasur

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2023

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